Conservationist pushes for appeal of ‘lenient’ Fraser fire fines
A longtime Fraser Island conservationist has written a letter to Queensland Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon, asking her to appeal the sentence handed down to two men who pleaded guilty to lighting a campfire that led to a wildfire that scorched half of Fraser Island.
Mike West said the fines handed down to Liam Gregory Cheshire, 24, who pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful lighting of a fire and leaving a fire unattended, and Dominic Glynn Mcgahan, another member of the group who pleaded guilty to unlawful lighting of a fire, were inadequate and would not deter others.
Cheshire was fined $1334 for the two offences and Mcgahan was fined $667.
“As the introducer of the agenda item to ban campfires on Fraser Island when a member of the advisory committee years ago, I take great interest in the last fire,” Mr West wrote in a letter to the Minister.
“I am absolutely horrified at the lenient fines meted out to those who caused this environmental disaster.
“I know the maximum fine for an illegal fire on K’gari is some $20,000, and this has already been imposed not that long ago for a very small wildfire that escaped an illegal campfire.
“Surely the legislation does not specify it is okay to have an illegal campfire as long as it is not arson?
“Surely there must be a way of appealing the obvious lightness of the court decision?
“I respectfully ask that you instigate proceedings to officially overturn the lenient fines suggested by the magistrate and impose the maximum fine to each of the culprits.”
Two other men, Travis Robert Lowe and Lachlan James Brown, also charged in relation to the fire, will have their charges mentioned in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court on February 11.